Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is For the Freakin' New York Yankees!!

The following is the story of the New York Yankees. It is in celebration of the greatest sports franchise ever, as well as being part of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge., where we bloggers do a different post each day (sans Sundays) during the month of April, putting them all in alphabetical order. Today is Y-Day, so let's talk about the Freakin' New York Yankees. Here we go...

Once upon a time, there was a baseball team called the Baltimore Orioles. No, not those Baltimore Orioles, a different Baltimore Orioles. These Baltimore Orioles were one of the eight founding teams of the American League, waaaay back in the year 1901. Okay, that other Baltimore Orioles team, the one that plays their games at the snazzy Camden Yards, next to Inner Harbor, Batlimore, were also one of the eight charter members of the AL, but they were called The Milwaukee Brewers. No, not those Milwaukee Brewers. Wow, this is getting complicated. Let me try to ease things up a bit. You see, back in 1901, The American League was formed. A league to compete with the already long established National League. The original eight teams were the Baltimore Orioles (no, not those Baltimore Orioles), the Milwaukee Brewers (no, not those Milwaukee Brewers, who would someday come into existence after starting out as the Seattle Pilots) as well as the Cleveland Bluebirds (eventually called The Indians), the Boston Americans (later to become the Red Sox), the Philadelphia Athletics (later to become the Oakland Athletics, after temporarily being the Kansas City Athletics), the Washington Senators (who eventually became the Minnesota Twins, and not to be confused with the other Washington Senators, who would become the Texas Rangers), and the Chicago White Sox (actually the White Stockings, at first), and the good ole Detroit Tigers, who never changed a damn thing about themselves. See, I told you it was confusing. Anyhoo, you are probably wondering when the Freakin' New York Yankees (Y is for Yankees, after all) are going to make their first appearance. Well they already did, boyo!

After two seasons in Baltimore, the Orioles (no, not those Orioles - those Orioles started out as the Milwaukee Brewers, then moved and became the hapless and rather sad sack St. Louis Browns, before finally getting to Baltimore in 1954) would move to New York in 1903, and become the New York... that's right, they would become the New York Highlanders! Wait, what? Yup, between 1903 and 1912, the Baltimore Orioles (no, not... well you get it by now) were the New York Highlanders. In 1913, they changed their name to the New York... drumroll please... Yankees. It's about time, dammit! Anyway, when the AL was formed, the NL's New York Giants, a powerful team at the time, blocked the AL from coming into New York, hence the team setting up camp in Baltimore. The NL thought of this so-called Junior Circuit, as a lesser entity, and really wanted nothing to do with it. After Orioles owner John McGraw jumped ship and joined the Giants organization, and started raiding the Orioles for players to play in New York, the leagues got together and came to an agreement, and thus, the New York Yankees..er, I mean Highlanders were born. As the Highlanders, playing in Hilltop Park, New York's buding new AL team would not see the World Series. They almost made it in 1904, but were eliminated on the final day of the season. There were no playoffs back in these days, by the by, just the AL winner vs. the NL winner. The team which eliminated them? The Boston Americans, later the Red Sox. It would be another hundred years before the Red Sox were once again able to defeat the Yankees in a pennant race. Incidentally, the persnickety Giants refused to play in this World Series (and it was only the second year of such a series) because they might have to play against their rival New York team.

Things would eventually cool down between the two teams, and they would even share the Polo Grounds from 1913 through 1922. During this time, now officially the Yankees, things did not really get all that better for the team, playing-wise. The Yankees would still not see any post-season play through the teens (even though they won more games than any other team in their league during this period), but after being bought by a rich brewery heir (maybe they should have become the Brewers at this time - no, not those Brewers) their fortunes changed. In 1920, a young pitching phenom would come over from the rival Red Sox. This pitcher would end up going into the outfield, and would change the New York Yankees forever. This pitcher-turned-outfielder, Red Sox-turned-Yankee, was of course, George Herman 'Babe' Ruth. Many in Boston say this trade cursed their team, and they would not see another World Series title for another 86 years. I don't think it was a curse so much as the Red Sox just really sucked for 86 years. Anyway, I digress. In 1920, Babe Ruth would hit 54 home runs. This was more home runs than almost every other team had. Whole teams! The Philadelphia Phillies hit 64 that year, but no other team managed to hit as many as that one guy in New York did. Now granted, 1920 also marks the year that baseballs began to be made differently (more tightly wound inside), and this "live ball" era was responsible for more home runs being hit. But still, ya didn't see anyone else hitting 54 home runs that year. Just the Bambino, baby! In 1921, the Yankees would win their very first AL Pennant. The first of an eventual 40...and counting. They would win again in 1922, but in both years, they would lose the World Series to those damn crosstown rivals, the New York Giants. But then came 1923, and the iconic Yankee Stadium - and their first of 27 (so far) World Series titles. And it would be against those damn New York Giants too!

In 1923, Yankee Stadium would be built, and it would be called "The House That Ruth Built." With help from some guy named Lou Gehrig, and a team dubbed Murderer's Row, the Yankees would take back-to-back championships in 1927 and 28. These teams are still called the greatest Yankee teams of all-time. Ruth would hit 60 home runs in one season, and would cement his place in baseball history. Eventually he would have a statue of himself erected in his hometown of Baltimore - right out front of Camden Yards, the home of those other Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees would go on to win lots more titles (including 4 in a row between 1936 and 1939) but while this was happening, tragedy would hit the team, as Lou Gehrig would finally succumb to Lou Gehrig's disease. Really, how did he not see that coming? Anyhoo, the Iron Horse would retire due to this disease, and give probably the most iconic speech in the history of baseball, maybe in the history of speeches. But this story has now gone from confusing to uplifting to downright sad as hell, so perhaps we should skip ahead now. The late thirties would bring Joltin' Joe DiMaggio to the team, and he had to be cool, because he would marry Marilyn Monroe. Okay, he may have slapped her around a bit, but that has never been proven, dammit! Then came Yogi Berra, Billy Martin, and Mickey Freakin' Mantle. The team would break their old record of four consecutive titles, as they would win five straight World Series between 1949 and 1953. Eventually Roger Maris would show up and break Ruth's record of 60 home runs, by hitting 61 in the appropriate year of 1961. Since it took Maris more games to accomplish this feat than it did Ruth (the season was expanded from 154 games to 162, the year Maris did his deed) they placed an ugly little asterisk. Perhaps this is why the guy is not in the Hall of Fame. Oh, and by the way, Maris is the only two-time MVP to not be in the Hall of Fame. He could get in as an "Historical Pick" later this year. Fingers crossed. But I digress,

After the 1962 championship season, and pennant winning years in '63 and '64, the Yankees would not see post season play again for another twelve years. After being bought by some guy you may have heard of, Mr. George Steinbrenner. The team would finally make it to the post season in 1976, but would lose to the Cincinnati Big Red Machine in the World Series. After this, all hell broke loose. Steinbrenner acquired Reggie Jackson from that other Baltimore Orioles team, and he quickly made enemies of team captain Thurman Munson and manager Billy Martin (both before and after he was fired again and again). The team was dubbed the Bronx Zoo by the press, but this did not stop them from winning the both the 1977 and 1978 World Series'. The 1980's though, would bring nothing but disappointment. Steinbrenner would hire, fire, re-hire, and re-fire about 367 different managers during this down period. Oddly enough, the Yankees would win more games than any team in the major leagues during the decade of the 1980's, but would only reach the post season once, in 1981. The one bright spot though, was Donnie Baseball, aka Don Mattingly. Mattingly, would play for the Yankees from his rookie year of 1982 through his somewhat early (due to injuries) retirement after the 1995 season. The really sad part is that Mattingly only saw the post season once, in his final season, and losing to the Seattle Mariners. Being one of the best players of his generation, his team just never made it. They were in the World Series in the year before he came up AND the year after he retired. Sad really. Perhaps this lack of post season stats is the reason Donnie Baseball (now manager of the L.A. Dodgers) is not in the Hall of Fame.

Which leaves us with the rebirth of the Freakin' New York Yankees. Winning titles in 1996, and again in 1998, 1999, and 2000, this newly reborn Yankee squad had a few stars of its own. You might have heard of a few guys like Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, Roger Clemens, David Wells, David Cone, and a closer by the name of Mo, aka Mariano Rivera. This new squad would win another title in 2009 (Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, and Rivera each winning their fifth rings) and would bring the Yankees back to where they should be - on top. Granted, there have been some problems here and there (let's not even get into the whole A-Rod bullshit - as far as I'm concerned, that douchebag can jump off the Brooklyn Bridge), but the Yankees, in their brand new stadium ("The Stadium That Jeter Built"), are still the greatest sports franchise ever. You Manchester fans can suck it. Soccer's not even a real sport anyway. How do you end a game 0-0!? Seriously! Anyway, there are many other Yankee greats I could have mentioned here (Bill Dickey, Red Ruffing, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, Casey Stengel, Phil Rizzuto, Catfish Hunter, Ron Guidry, Dave Winfield, Ricky Henderson, Robinson Cano, Hidecki Matsui) but I have already rambled on way more than I probably should have. So, there ya have it. The history of the Freakin' New York Yankees. No, not those New York Yankees, the othe... oh wait, yeah, it is those New York Yankees. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.



5 comments:

  1. Since I leave sports to my brother I kept thinking of the beautifil Baltimore oriole bird:) Wait not that bird...Nyuck, Nyuck. Some of the names I know but my brother is the expert. he had a job at one time where he wrote the back of the cards and the stats. To me my brother is the Stat king! His favourite team...The Baltimore Orioles:)

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  2. As a Massachusetts native and Red Sox fan, I'm supposed to hate the Yankees, but I don't. I've always respected them, especially when they play against "us."

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  3. Yup. I have many friends who just so happen to be members of that Red Sox Nation place. I've tried to disown them, but it just won't take. I kid of course. Or do I??????? Bwaahahahahahah!!

    Thanx for coming to the show - even if you are only thinking about birds. See ya'll 'round the web.

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  4. I also pick my favorite teams by how many championships they've won. That's why I root for the Yanks, Canadiens, Celtics, and Packers. Oh wait... I actually do like the Packers ;-P

    This wasn't as hard to read as i thought it was going to be. I'm a lifelong baseball card collector so it was cool to see some classic cards in there. And the humor made your history lesson easier to swallow for this Sawx fan. But that's what it is -- history. We're dominating this millenium. Bwaahahahahahah!!

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  5. Um, okay. Dominate away. It's good to have delusions. Ha! ;)

    Seriously, thanx for liking the post, even as a Sawx fan. We are enjoying Ellsbury, btw.

    See ya 'round the web.

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